Fonds MS-2-755 - Thomas Cantley fonds

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Thomas Cantley fonds

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  • Textual record
  • Graphic material

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Physical description

33.5 cm of textual records
16 photographs ; b&w :11 x 18 cm or smaller
4 blueprints ; 33 x 20.5 cm

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Name of creator


Biographical history

The Hon. Col. Thomas Cantley was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, on 19 April 1857, the son of Charles and Catherine (Fraser) Cantley. He attended public school in New Glasgow before working odd jobs, beginning as messenger for Western Union Telegraph Co. In 1878 he opened a crockery store, Thomas Cantley and Company, on Provost Street, which he ran for seven years with silent partner James D. MacGregor. He joined the Nova Scotia Steel Company Ltd. (later BESCO) in 1885 as a general sales agent and was elected to the board of directors in 1901, followed by appointments as president and general manager on 13 July 1915. Between 1895-1919 he travelled extensively in Europe where he successfully marketed Wabana iron ore and coal. He was instrumental in negotiating deals to manufacture ammunition for Great Britain during the First World War. Cantley served as MP for Pictou County from 1925 until his appointment to the Senate on 20 July 1935. He was active in professional and civic organizations, serving as founder, trustee, and president of the Aberdeen Hospital; first member of Canadian Shell Committee; president of Canadian Manufacturers' Association; chairman of Canadian Munition Resources Commission; and president of Nova Scotia Mining Society. He received an honorary LLD from Dalhousie in 1919 and was later appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of Great Britain. In 1893 he married Maria Jane Fraser of Pictou, with whom he had five children: Charles Lang, Howard, Donald, Helen and Marian. He died in New Glasgow at his house, "Bonniebrae," on 24 February 1945.

Custodial history

Materials were donated to Dalhousie University Archives by Catherine Campbell in two accessions on October 30, 2005 and August 22, 2006. Further information about custodial history is unknown.

Scope and content

Fonds consists of Thomas Cantley's materials accumulated and sometimes annotated by Catherine Campbell in the course of her research on Cantley's life, including correspondence regarding his political and professional activities; correspondence with family members; manuscripts and typescripts; speeches; photographs; financial statements; and other textual records. Fonds also contains records originating with Cantley's family, including correspondence between his children Charles L. Cantley and Marian Cantley, and a letter from Donald F. Cantley to E.W. Sutherland.

Notes area

Physical condition

Some of the documents are in poor condition. Careful handling is required.

Immediate source of acquisition


Language of material

  • English
  • French

Script of material

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Restrictions on access

There are no access restrictions on these materials. All materials are open for research.

Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

Materials do not circulate and must be used in the Archives and Special Collections Reading Room. Materials may be under copyright. Contact departmental staff for guidance on reproduction.

Finding aids

Associated materials

See the Hon. Thomas Cantley Family fonds held by the Pictou County Genealogy and Heritage Society, Nova Scotia, Canada. Information about the collection is available in:

See the Nova Scotia Steel and Coal Company fonds held by Nova Scotia Archives, Nova Scotia, Canada. Information about the collection is available in:

See the Thomas Cantley fonds held by Nova Scotia Archives, Nova Scotia, Canada. Information about the collection is available in:

Related materials


Further accruals are not expected.

General note

Preferred citation: [Identification of item], Thomas Cantley fonds, MS-2-755, Box [box number], Folder [folder number], Dalhousie University Archives, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

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